Youth Afterschool Ambassador: "I encourage others to speak up and be heard"


Youth Afterschool Ambassador: "I encourage others to speak up and be heard"

By Timothy Hall, 2019 Youth Afterschool Ambassador from Mountain Home Airforce Base. 

I participated in this year’s Afterschool for All Challenge as an Afterschool Youth Ambassador. Through the Afterschool Alliance I took a trip to Washington D.C. to be an advocate for afterschool programs in my state and around the nation to get the recognition and better funding after school programs deserve. Traveling to D.C. was one of the coolest and important trips I have ever got to participate in. I was joined by two other advocates around the same age as I am, with different stories and backgrounds on how they got there. The one thing we all shared in common was the message: recognition of and better funding for afterschool programs. The first day I was there was almost nerve-wracking due to the fact that I didn't really know what was going to happen and what was going to end up happening.

However, once I started interacting with people and started talking to people on why they were in D.C. for this and what was their goal in D.C., I quickly realized that we were all there for the same reason: to be heard by Congress. I attended a class with quite a few of other youth and the other two Afterschool Youth Ambassadors. In this class we talked about different kinds of elected officials and what advocacy was. At the time I thought “I’ve already know all of this. Do I really need to hear this information again?” But I paid attention and I am glad I did, because it was nice to get a refresher about all the information needed—not to mention the information given was actually super helpful for the following day.

The last day I was in Washington D.C. was the day that counted the most. I knew on that day I would probably be the most nervous I had ever been, but I didn’t let it show. I woke up, had breakfast, and off I went to the Senate buildings where I met with staffers and a senator. I was nervous all the way up until I started talking to these people face to face and realized that there just people like me. I was there to state my cause and so I did. I do not completely know if they really knew the importance of afterschool programs before, but I made it clear how important they were by the time I left.

Overall the Afterschool for All Challenge in D.C. was a great experience and I encourage others to speak up and be heard no matter what their cause is. In my case it’s for afterschool programs. Afterschool works!